Just over one year after the death of Jason Cooper, the New Suffolk Civic Association and New Suffolk Board of Education came together on Thursday afternoon to dedicate the New Suffolk ballfield in Mr. Cooper’s memory.
A large rock sits behind the home plate fence decorated with a plaque that includes a picture of Mr. Cooper and a description of his life and involvement in restoring the ballfield.
“A number of years ago, this ballfield was overgrown and neglected in the corner of the block here,” Tony Dill, New Suffolk Board of Education president, said, adding that Mr. Cooper asked the board and civic association to come together to restore the ballfield in 2015. “There was a lot of work that went into fixing the field up and now the last couple of years we’ve had active t-ball games here all during the spring. It’s really terrific that this ballfield has been restored to its use.”
Mr. Cooper died last June at age 47 following an accident at his mother’s New Suffolk home. He had been working outside on her home and had fallen from a ladder, police said at the time.
Mr. Cooper was also posthumously awarded the 2018 Spirit of New Suffolk award by the New Suffolk Civic Association. His oldest son, Thomas, accepted the award on Mr. Cooper’s behalf.
Yvonne Boutges-Duffy, member of the New Suffolk Civic Association, noted Mr. Cooper’s contributions to the hamlet during his life, which included serving on the school board and coaching for Mattituck-Cutchogue Little League and volunteering at the Mattituck-Presbyterian Church.
Mr. Cooper attended New Suffolk School and graduated in Southold High School in 1988. He served in the United States Navy, becoming a veteran of the First Gulf War, Desert Storm, Ms. Boutges-Duffy said. He then spent 18 years as branch Master Sergeant with the Air National Guard at Francis S. Gabreski Airport in Westhampton.
“Whether it was across the globe, across the bay, or across the ballfield, Jason R. Cooper was always there to lead the way or lend a hand to help his family, community and country,” she said.
Ms. Boutges-Duffy informed the dozens of people in attendance Thursday — which included Mr. Cooper’s family, friends, Supervisor Scott Russell and members of the Cutchogue Fire Department — that the civic association delayed handing out this year’s spirit award so it could be given at the dedication ceremony.
Joseph Polashock, New Suffolk Board of Education member, said the plaque was a joint effort between the board and the civic association, adding that local companies who wished to remain anonymous aided in the installation of the emorial.
“I just wanted to say, on behalf of our family, thank you from the bottom of our hearts,” Sherwood Cooper Jr., Mr. Cooper’s brother, said through tears. “We love you guys. We just really appreciate your love for my brother and our son. Thank you.”
Photo caption: The Cooper family at the baseball field that was dedicated in Jason Cooper’s memory Thursday afternoon. (Nicole Smith photo)